One of the most common mistakes I see being made by folks who are new to search engine optimization is a lack of focus on attracting deep links. These people will work hard to gain new links to their sites by submitting to directories, joining organizations and filling out profiles on social networks, but they often fail to focus on getting good quality links to the inner pages of their web sites. But new data released by Jacob Nielsen shows just how important those deep links are.

BBC News had an article over the weekend that talked about the data from one of Jakob Nielsen's studies on how Internet users surf the web. His findings confirmed what most link building gurus have been telling folks for ages. It's essential to build strong links to the internal pages of your web site.

The article reports:

There has also been a big change in the way that people get to the places where they can complete pressing tasks, he said.

In 2004, about 40% of people visited a homepage and then drilled down to where they wanted to go and 60% use a deep link that took them directly to a page or destination inside a site. In 2008, said Dr Nielsen, only 25% of people travel via a homepage. The rest search and get straight there.

That tells us two things.

1.) You need to make sure ALL pages of your web site are ranking well so people find their way straight to the page that best fits what they are looking for when they run a search.


2.) You need to be building deep links to all pages of your site with good content so those pages will rank well and so direct link traffic ends up exactly where they want to be.

It's easy enough to fall into the trap of only building links to a home page. For most sites that are new to search engine optimization, the home page is the easiest one to rank. At the same time, when you're just starting off with link building, it tends to be easiest to get those front page links from the directories and sites you've been neglecting.

The trick is not to get lazy.

Once you've built that foundation (or better yet, WHILE you're building that foundation) start branching out and building links to the inner pages of your site. Create fantastic product copy and find ways to promote those individual product pages. Build a blog and use the easy-to-publish format to offer information and insight into the topics near and dear to your heart. Creating killer content throughout your site is a great way to make sure you start naturally attracting deep links.

Beyond that, make sure you're controlling what you can control. If you have social networking accounts, consider linking back to a favorite post or article on your web site instead of to your main URL. If you're leaving a comment on someone's blog and they allow you to leave links, consider linking back to a post you've made that is relevant to the topic you are commenting on. Check your internal link structure. There's no rule that says the only links on your site are in your navigation. If you have content on one page that talks about content on another page, include a link.

Users have shown time and time again they want to cut to the chase and get straight to the content they want. Your job as a site owner or marketer is to help them accomplish that goal.

May 27, 2008

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.


This is the most informative article I have read all day. Thank you

Your blog Deep Links is very good and providing comprehensive information on the link building strategies. specially for the people like me who are new to internet marketing it is giving details explanation of linking process and how necessary it is important to build links for internal pages. i have gone through some pages which were very similar to you and providing some more information on this topic.

Thank you for the post. It provides a useful information for the webmasters. I agree that we should focus on building links to all the pages of the website. I mostly use the directory submission to build links and unfortunately, the directories allow submit only the home page of the website. They don't accept deep links.

Another home run - thanks!

I'm working on an affiliate program for a client as part the marketing efforts and just yesterday began concentrating on creatives that will link directly to inner category pages. The site owner was resistant to this approach saying no one else in his industry does that - they all just link to the front page and leave it go at that.

Your article provided the backup I needed to justify my approach.

Jennifer, you make a great point. The million dollar question, though, do you get links to deep pages? If you've got a repository of informative articles or a really cool free tool, sure, that's easy. But what about commercial sites that have 20 pages of content in a "products" section, with each page optimized for a different search term. How do you get links to those pages? (I don't actually expect you to have an answer to this -- I don't think there is one -- but wanted to raise the issue.) Thanks! Stacy


Fair question and one that is tough to answer, that's for sure.

I think there are a few options though...

1.) Building out a product page beyond the standard specs. You can embed YouTube video of how to use it. You can include user reviews, you can write fantastic copy like you see at ThinkGeek. Product pages don't have to be boring and by making them not boring, you increase the chance of direct links.

2.) Maximizing internal link structure. I see way too many people who build standard nav and then leave it at that. Working links in to your page copy, your blog copy and cross linking internal pages with things like "if you like this, you'll like that" type things.

Look at how Amazon does their internal linking. They get a cross-selling boost, offer up additional info to visitors and spread that link love around. It's really quite brilliant.

It's certainly harder to get links to these types of pages, but that just means getting a little more creative, right?

Great article as always. This is a good point, linking for deep product pages would be difficult to do. Some products would be more difficult to gain links from than others. As you said this is when you need to get really creative with your link building. The YouTube video idea for products is a great one, customer reviews also make sense. I've got a customer who might benefit from these ideas, thanks again for the details suggestions.

To Stacy

You may also rethink your internal link structure to get inner pages linked properly from and with the homepage and other pages.

To Stacy

You may also rethink your internal link structure to get inner pages linked properly from and with the homepage and other pages.

If you have low pagerank to begin with, will linking internally make any difference?

Is it best to try and get an even spread of pagerank across your website so that all pages have at least PR1.Then aim to get them all to PR2 and so on. Or is it more effective to concentrate on one page at a time and gradually work through them all systematically?

I've used an internal page as my URL above. Is that a good idea? :-D

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for sharing stunned insights. i totally agree with you that folks doesn't concentration on deep link, It will be beneficial in long term, building brand. I' ve been using directory submission and social networking sites for internal pages of sites, It really works for me and i got better rankings and traffic for those internal pages. but there are limited resources of it. i'll hope that in future you'll write post on "Useful resources for deep linking". Keep writing..

I think many webmasters spend a lot of time optimizing their home page only. They do this by optimizing on page factors like H1 tags, title, keyword density, alt tags, etc, and off page factors like the number and quality of inward links from other sites. That's fine and is something you should definitely do, but you should also take some time to optimize all of your inner web pages as well.

I have found that not all internal pages will get linked. It seems links with .php extension don't take on certain blogs, any reason why?

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Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > Deep Links: Web Users Want What They Want and They Want it Now!